It is not uncommon for the police to have difficulty identifying the actual driver of a vehicle caught on camera exceeding the legal speed limit.
A recent attempt by two motorists, both of whom were caught breaking the speed limit, to contest the need to give evidence to the police so that a prosecution could be brought, failed recently.
Gerard O’Halloran’s car was filmed travelling at 69 mph in a 40 mph limit and Idris Francis’ car was caught doing 47 mph in a 30 mph limit. Both were convicted of speeding.
Both appealed against their convictions on the basis that the requirement that a person suspected of a crime provides information which might contribute to a conviction was a breach of their human rights under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a fair trial.
The right to a fair trial is unqualified, but what was debatable was whether the provision of the information sought would compromise a fair trial.
In UK law there is a duty under the Road Traffic Offenders Act which requires the registered keeper of a vehicle to give information about the driver of the vehicle in certain circumstances. The fact that this is a requirement should be known by drivers and the penalties for failure to provide the information are not custodial – neither is an offence committed if the registered keeper is genuinely unable to give the information sought. Accordingly, the requirement is not an infringement of the right not to incriminate oneself.
The right to silence is not absolute. When it is exercised lawfully in a criminal trial, the invoking of the right to silence is disclosed to the jury.
New speed cameras are gradually being introduced which will photograph the driver in sufficient detail to make identification possible in most instances. However, under changes in the law which came into force on 24 September 2007, harsher penalties will be handed out to motorists who fail to disclose who was driving when a speeding offence was committed. The courts will be able to impose six penalty points on a driver’s licence, rather than a maximum of three points.
More recently a man convicted of driving at over 170 mph on an 'A' road was sentenced to prison and banned from driving for three years.